Some sports require an unusual level of individual skills, including precision and finesse, where even the smallest movement can impact the outcome. Two of the Bruins teams—golf and shooting sports—require that high level of both patience and fine-tuned motor skills.
Coming into this season, both Bruins golf teams experienced some changes. The men’s team is in a rebuilding stage, having lost several key seniors and gained four freshmen. The women’s team also had some roster changes after its preseason, with two players leaving and two joining.
Both golf teams are coached by Dr. Denny Scott, with Christine Heath as the assistant coach. The men’s team consists of eight golfers and the women’s team of five.
Kate Matthews, a sophomore, recently competed individually in the NCCAA National Tournament and made history for the women’s golf program by finishing 5th overall. She became the first female golfer in BJU program history to earn all-American honors.
Matthews first began playing golf 14 years ago, when she was about five years old, and is now in her second year on the Bruins team. “My season got off to a rocky start, but then I went to my coach and got some lessons before this major tournament,” Matthews said. “That really helped me improve.”
Although Matthews competed individually in the NCCAA National Tournament, the teams typically participate in team competitions, where each player’s score influences the team’s final score.
“I’ve learned that how I play impacts the team, not just me,” Matthews said. “If I do poorly, then it hurts our team score, and we might not win as a team.”
The men’s golf team recently placed third in the NCCAA South Region Championship, with junior Luke Jacobs placing 10th overall on the individual leaderboard.
Keaton Osteen, the captain of the men’s golf team, said he has played his most consistent golf this season. “It’s my senior year, so it’s a good thing for this to be happening my final year,” Osteen said. “As a player, I have grown more in patience. I need to learn from the small things and be able to keep my focus and stay stable in my emotions.”
Elise Snow, a junior, grew up playing golf with her dad and joined the team after preseason this semester. This season has been an adjustment for her as she competes in college golf competitions for the first time. “Golf is so much of a mental game,” Snow said. “It’s such a precise sport. It’s all about the little victories.”
Another Bruins team that requires precise, fine movement is the shooting team. The team, made up of 12 men and two women, focuses on both the pistol and shotgun disciplines. They practice every Saturday morning at Belton Gun Club, a local shooting range near Greenville, and they compete every few weeks.
Dan Seibert, the head coach for the shooting team, emphasizes the technicality and precision of shooting sports. “Shooting involves a lot of fine motor skills and small adjustments,” Seibert said. “Little details, like the positioning of the fingers, make a huge difference.”
Typically, an individual shooting round will last for only 60 seconds. “It takes hours to prepare and train,” Seibert said, “but the time we’re actually competing as athletes in a competition is about a minute.”
Seibert’s son, Nathaniel, a senior, is the captain of the team and appreciates the practicality of knowing how to handle a firearm. “Shooting is such a unique sport,” he said. “Shooting and a proper knowledge and understanding of it can be used in self-defense. Basketball is not likely to save your life someday, but shooting could.”
Coach Seibert emphasizes shooting as a God-given talent. “God’s given you these abilities,” Seibert said. “Do you only think about shooting or do you think about other ways you can use your God-given ability to serve and help others?”